Tuesday, December 12, 2006

That was quick... Skilling to start serving sentence

The AP reports here that, less than 24 hours after staying the start of his sentence (news here), the Fifth Circuit "denied former Enron Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Skilling's request to remain free during his appeal Tuesday and ordered him imprisoned immediately."  According to the AP story, the Fifth Circuit's "order notes 'serious frailties' in Skilling's convictions, [but] says those problems fail to raise a 'substantial question' likely to result in the overturning of all Skilling's convictions, as would be required to grant bail during appeal."

December 12, 2006 in Enron sentencing | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

When will Skilling have to report to prison?

Lots of news folks were talking up the fact that Jeff Skilling was due to report to prison this week, as evidenced by articles here and here and here.  But, as the Houston Chronicle reports here, the Fifth Circuit has now stayed Skilling's prison report date so it could fully consider his motion for bail pending appeal:

The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has delayed the start of former Enron CEO Jeff Skilling's prison sentence that was scheduled to begin here Tuesday.  The court said today he would not have to report to prison while it considers his motion for bail pending his appeal on his conviction. "This order is entered solely to allow this court to give careful consideration to the request for bail pending appeal," the court said.

The Washington Post has more coverage here.

December 12, 2006 in Enron sentencing | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Final Enron sentencings

As detailed in this Houston Chronicle story, two final Enron executives learned their sentencing fate on Friday.  Here are the basic details:

Two former Enron executives who pleaded guilty to crimes and helped prosecutors pursue others in the scandal-ridden company learned their punishments today. Michael Kopper, former Enron finance chief Andrew Fastow's onetime top lieutenant, will serve three years and one month in prison followed by two years probation for helping scam the company out of millions of dollars while manipulating its books, U.S. District Judge Ewing Werlein ruled today. Shortly thereafter, Werlein sentenced former Enron investor relations chief Mark Koenig to 18 months in prison followed by probation for two years for helping top management mislead investors about the company's financial health.

November 18, 2006 in Enron sentencing | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Monday, November 13, 2006

Closing chapter 1 of the Enron sentencings

As the Houston Chronicle details here, a number of the remaining Enron-related sentencings will take place this week: Richard Causey will be sentenced on Wednesday, and Mark Koenig and Michael Kopper are set for sentencing on Friday.  White Collar Crime Prof Blog here is promising analysis throughout this week.

I consider these sentencings only the close of Chapter 1 because Jeff Skilling is sure to pursue some sentencing issues on appeal.  And that appeal could be significantly impacted by the two now-pending SCOTUS cases on reasonableness review, Claiborne and Rita (background here).  The outcome in the Rita case, which involves review of a relatively lengthy within-guideline sentence for a first offender, could be especially important to Mr. Skilling's fate.

November 13, 2006 in Enron sentencing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

More Skilling reactions and a query

Those interested in more post-game analysis of the Skilling sentence should be sure to check out Tom Kirkendall's analysis here and also the Houston Chronicle's cool extended podcast with expert commentary from an assortment of thoughtful experts.

The Houston Chronicle's podcast is really intriguing from start to finish, and it begins with lots of praise for Skilling's lawyers for keeping his sentence from being even higher than 24+ years.  I would like to hear from readers whether they agree with this assessment.

October 24, 2006 in Enron sentencing | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Some more blogosphere (and media) reactions to the Skilling sentence

In addition to some prior reactions noted here, folks looking for the blogosphere's various takes on Jeff Skilling's sentence of 24+ years can check out these posts:

UPDATE: Howard Bashman now has all the major media coverage of the Skilling sentence linked here.

October 24, 2006 in Enron sentencing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Monday, October 23, 2006

Skilling gets guideline sentence of 292 months

As well reported by Howard Bashman here, Judge Sim Lake sentenced Jeff Skilling at the low end of the (now advisory) 2000-era Guidelines range by imposing a sentence of 292 months of imprisonment (That's 24 years and 4 months for those not good at dividing quickly by 12.)

Because Skilling was sentenced in the Fifth Circuit, his within-guideline sentence will be deemed presumptively reasonable on appeal (though I suppose Skilling could contest on appeal some guideline calculation issues).  Notably, I do not believe any other high-profile white-collar defendants have received a within-guideline sentence recently.  Though WorldCom's Bernie Ebbers was sentenced to 25 years, the guideline range in that case was life, I believe.

I have not heard if Judge Lake has plans for a written opinion in this case, but I hope he will write up an explanation for his various decisions.

UPDATE:  Ellen Podgor and Peter Henning at White Collar Crime Prof Blog have lots of interesting reactions here.  I found this comment by Peter especially provocative:

While Jeffrey Skilling receives 24 years for presiding over the collapse of Enron, former Congressman Randy (Duke) Cunningham sells his office to a string of defense contracts for a bit over $1 million and receives a sentence of 8 years.  Soon-to-be former Congressman Bob Ney will likely be sentenced to less than 3 years in prison for selling out his office to lobbyists led by Jack Abramoff.  How can there be such a disparity between the sentences for public corruption and the corporate frauds perpetrated by Ebbers and Skilling?

October 23, 2006 in Enron sentencing | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Tastes great, more Skilling

As this headline suggests, I am getting a bit punchy following the Houston Chronicle's live blogging of the Skilling sentencing.  Still, I cannot turn away, and these posts have something for everyone:

In addition, I see that here that White Collar Crime Prof Blog has collected a lot of "Background on Skilling."  And, speaking of collecting posts, here's my recent work in this arena:

UPDATE:  The Houston Chronicle's blog reports here that it is now time for attorney arguments that now Judge Lake has "said under guidelines Skilling would be faced with between 292 and 365 months in jail.  He may depart from that, however."

MORE:  It seems that the sentencing hearing is wrapping up with Skilling's lawyer presenting argument; Skilling's sentence may soon be announced.  But I now need to go teach a two-hour class, so I may be the last interested person to find out what number Judge Lake picks.  Of course, that should not stop readers from noting and debating that number in the comments.

October 23, 2006 in Enron sentencing | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Still more Skilling sentencing pre-game analysis

With Jeff Skilling's sentencing scheduled for today, this morning brings another round of articles discussing his case and white-collar sentencing more generally. The New York Times, for example, has this piece headlined, "The Guidelines Now Tougher, Skilling to Face Sentence Today." 

The Houston Chronicle has this front-page story entitled "An era ends today as Skilling learns fate."  In addition, as detailed here, the Chronicle "plans to blog the sentencing hearing" which begins at 1 pm CDT.  The Chronicle says the hearing "is expected to take a couple of hours" and that its "blogging should begin earlier in the morning."

Recent related posts:

October 23, 2006 in Enron sentencing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Sunday, October 22, 2006

More pre-game coverage of Skilling sentencing

As discussed recently here, Jeff Skilling is due to be sentenced in Houston on Monday.  Today, in both the traditional media and the blogosphere, there is a lot of pre-game analysis.  For some basics, check out coverage from the AP, from the Houston Chronicle, and from Reuters.  To dig deeper, check out coverage around the blogosphere.

Tom Kirkendall at Houston's Clear Thinkers here seeks to provide "an objective evaluation of Skilling's case as a counterbalance to what the mainstream media typically serves up."  Larry Ribstein at Ideoblog here discusses the "particular problem [of] the government's buying testimony with pleas."  In a similar vein, Ellen Podgor at White Collar Crime Prof Blog here explores "what happens to the accused's right to a jury trial when there is an enormous disparity between the sentence given to cooperators and that given to those who decide to go to trial."

Recent related posts:

October 22, 2006 in Enron sentencing | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Friday, October 20, 2006

Skilling sentencing questions (and predictions?)

Right after Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling were convicted in May, I did this post with first-cut Enron sentencing questions.  With Skilling's sentencing hearing scheduled for this coming Monday, these questions remain timely:

With much time and many developments in this case and in other high-profile white-collar cases (see this Enron sentencing archive), we might now add these questions:

Of course, the ultimate question is what sentence will Skilling get.  Anyone brave enough to make predictions in the comments?

UPDATE:  Peter Henning at White Collar Crime Prof Blog adds some thoughts and insights here.  Meanwhile, CFO.com thoughtfully explores here "What Skilling's sentencing means."

October 20, 2006 in Enron sentencing | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack

Thursday, October 19, 2006

"Enron: The Tale of Two Sentencings"

The Wall Street Journal today has this interesting commentary entitled, "Enron: The Tale of Two Sentencings —  If Skilling Gets 20 Years in Prison, It'll Show It Hurts Not to Sing to Prosecutors."  Here are some portions:

The surprisingly lenient prison sentence given recently to Enron Corp. former Chief Financial Officer Andrew Fastow highlights the benefits of cooperating with federal criminal authorities. The coming sentencing of former Enron President Jeffrey Skilling is likely to demonstrate the dangers of fighting them....

The likely discrepancy in prison terms for Messrs. Fastow and Skilling, widely considered to be two of the central figures of the Enron scandal, illustrates that there has never been a better time in the white-collar-crime world to rat on your colleagues.

Over the past half-decade, prison terms for financial crimes have ratcheted up. Where a convicted corporate executive could once expect probation or a few years in prison, a first-time offender now faces as long as life behind bars.  The surest way to avoid such a fate is to admit wrongdoing, cut a deal with prosecutors and help them nab others. The sentencing system "has developed a huge gulf between those who go to trial and those who cooperate," says Kirby Behre, a former federal prosecutor and co-author of a treatise on federal sentencing practices.  While Mr. Skilling faces "an astronomical sentence," cooperators such as Mr. Fastow "are still getting sweet deals," says Mr. Behre, a partner in the Washington law office of Paul, Hastings, Janofsky & Walker.

October 19, 2006 in Enron sentencing | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Ken Lay's conviction vacated

Though presidents and Governor's rarely grant pardons anymore, abatement doctrines mean that the grim reaper still can: as detailed in this Reuters account, Judge Sim Lake yesterday "dismissed the conspiracy and fraud convictions of Enron Corp. founder Ken Lay because he died before he could appeal."  For traditional media coverage, check out the Houston Chronicle, the New York Times and Washington Post; for blogosphere highlights and commentary, check out the WSJ Law Blog, White Collar Crime Prof Blog and Houston's Clear Thinkers.

Judge Lake's memorandum opinion is available here, and sentencing fans may be most interested in the effort by a claimed Enron victim to use the new Crime Victims' Rights Act (CVRA) to oppose vacating Lay's convictions.  Judge Lake gave these arguments short shrift, but a news report indicates that victim plans to appeal.  This part of the decision could become real interesting because the CVRA requires a circuit court to resolve a mandamus action brought pursuant to the CVRA very quickly.

Some recent related posts on victims' rights:

October 18, 2006 in Enron sentencing | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Another Enron cooperator gets shortened sentence

As detailed in this article, another Enron cooperator has received a shorter sentence as a result of that cooperation.  Here are some details:

Enron Corp.'s former No. 2 investor relations executive who helped link former company Chairman Ken Lay and former CEO Jeff Skilling to fraud in their trial earlier this year will serve probation for two years for insider trading, a judge ruled Thursday.

Paula Rieker, 52, wept before U.S. District Judge Melinda Harmon, prompting a court staff member to hand her a box of tissues as she asked for probation. Insider trading carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, but Rieker was eligible to serve probation to six months behind bars under federal sentencing guidelines.

Some related posts:

October 7, 2006 in Enron sentencing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Comparing Ebbers and Fatsow sentencing outcomes

Over at Jurist, guest columnist Douglas Branson has this very interesting commentary about recent white-collar prosecutions and sentencings entitled "Fastow and Ebbers: A Tale of Two Criminals."  The commentary is full of intriguing insights, and it closes with this paragraph:

What do we learn from this?  One, corporate CEOs are much like ship captains: they may be blamed for everything that happens on their watch, whether they are complicit or not. Two, the much ballyhooed Department of Justice guidelines mean nothing in high profile white collar crime cases. They don't prevent lynching the less blameworthy; they also permit a mere slap on the wrist to the greedy, the sophisticated, and the stealthy if they turn state's evidence.  Three, Ebbers should serve roughly the same as, or only a little more, or even a little less, time than should Andrew Fastow, at least if we are concerned about doing justice.

October 4, 2006 in Enron sentencing | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Further Fastow sentencing follow-up

Today's papers bring three intriguing pieces in the aftermath of the sentencing of Andrew Fastow:

October 3, 2006 in Enron sentencing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Further Fastow and other white-collar follow-up

Though the blogosphere had lots of commentary in a matter of hours, traditional media are now starting to reflect on the sentence given to Andrew Fastow earlier this week (basics here).  Here are two notable commentaries I have seen:

In addition, Houston's Clear Thinkers has this additional follow-up on Fastow and other Enron doings.  Also, reflecting more broadly on corporate scandals and sentencing outcomes, Professor Nancy Rappaport has this interesting commentary at Jurist entitled "Don't Outsource Your Conscience: Lessons in Corporate Truth."

September 28, 2006 in Enron sentencing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Fastow gets only six years' imprisonment

I just received the somewhat surprising news that, as detailed in this Wall Street Journal alert and this AP coverage, that "Former Enron Corp. chief financial officer Andrew Fastow was sentenced today in a Houston federal court to six years in prison followed by two years of full-time community service for his role in the crimes committed at the energy giant."  Fastow's plea deal capped his sentence at 10 years, and I think most observers expected a sentence near that cap.

I encourage commentators to debate whether the comparable sentences now given to Fastow of Enron and Jamie Olis of Dynegy (details here) is a great example of sentencing consistency or of unwarranted sentencing disparity.   Because of all their great coverage of white-collar sentencing, I'm already looking forward to the reactions of Tom Kirkendall and the folks at the White Collar Crime Prof Blog.

September 26, 2006 in Enron sentencing | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Monday, September 25, 2006

For white-collar sentencing fans...

the White Collar Crime Prof Blog has lots and lots of quite interesting commentary.  Check out:

September 25, 2006 in Enron sentencing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

More coverage of white-collar sentencing season

I noted in this recent post that we are in the middle of white-collar sentencing season, and today's newspapers provide some more coverage.  This piece from the Houston Chronicle discusses tomorrow's scheduled sentencin of Andrew Fastow, and this front-page piece from the Washington Post asks in its headline, "Cook the Books, Get Life in Prison: Is Justice Served?".

Some recent related posts:

September 25, 2006 in Enron sentencing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack